This Christmas, I made my way to Delhi, a place known for its traditional Christmas festivities, such as fat bearded uncles riding around in flashy vehicles while elves called Chotu do all the work at home. But I came here for a festival much bigger and better than Good Governance Day, i.e. the Delhi winter. Or as Bombay people like to call it, “Will six layers be enough or should I install a blast furnace in my chaddis?”
I bet all the North Indians are rolling their eyes at my excitement. But you have to understand that as a Bombayite, I’m still awed by the fact that I can spend an entire day outdoors and not lose half my body weight in sweat. It’s similar to the wonder you see in a Delhiite’s eyes when they come to Bombay and encounter mystical objects, like a functioning rickshaw meter.
The weather reports don’t really tell you how cold Delhi is. They may say “six degrees celsius”, but in reality, it’s so cold that when you wash your face, your nads shrivel up. It is so foggy that motorists can’t even see who they’re shooting at and have to rely on woofers for echolocation, like some sort of weird Haryanvi bats. Simply put, Delhi is colder than Amit Shah’s soul.
But none of that matters during the day when its raining sunshine and you can let it wash over you in one of the 26983 parks and gardens they have here. I visited Lodi Gardens, named after the famous Mughal emperor, Mr. Gardens. Again, all this greenery and open space might be commonplace for Delhiites, but I was walking around the place, all wide-eyed and drooly, like a dog who just entered a mansion made out of chewy slippers. I can’t help it. The closest thing I have to a garden in Bombay is a clump of dhania in my kitchen.
Lodi Gardens is a verdant expanse dotted with ruins that, even almost five hundred years later, have a regal air about them. They rise up before you, broken but proud, as if to say, “We were a marvel of our times. We were the PVRs and Nirula’s of the Lodi Dynasty.” The stamp of the kingdom is most evident in the intricate wall-to-wall Islamic calligraphy that says ‘Rajan Luvs Dimpy’ and ‘For Hot Time Call Reema She Is Cheapo Woh Pakka Degi’.
Lodi Gardens is also home to a variety of wildlife, especially the hormonally charged Homo sapiens that seems to reside behind bushes and walls, where it proceeds to deploy its tongue into the mouth of its mate and use it the way one would use a shovel to dig up buried treasure. Feel free to abandon all caution as you walk past these creatures, because they will not register your presence. A serial killer could pop up next to them and it wouldn’t matter. You’d just see the chalk outlines around their bodies the next day, the outline of his hands still fumbling with the outlines of her bra hook.
These species usually tend to be young, but yesterday I came across a uncle and an aunty well into their 50s, sucking face behind a tree. Think of the lovable old couple from Up, and now imagine the lusty Punjabi version of that. Most people would be put off by that sight, but as I watched Rajinder Singh make out with Rajinder Kaur under a blanket of glorious winter sunshine, their love soaring far and away from the shackles of social norms, I couldn’t help but think, “Ew, gross.”
This was followed by more thoughts that were mean and unnecessary, but also a natural reaction to old people making out. Things like, “Uncle, how is your neck bending that much when you have spondylitis? Aunty, don’t you have to rush home to shut off the pressure cooker? STOP FOOLING AROUND – DAAL JAL JAAYEGI!” (It’s stuff like this that’ll make sure I have no one special to fool around with when I’m in my 50s. Ah well, that’s what Thailand was invented for.)
And on that romantic, winter-y note, I wish you all a super new year. May you all find your Rajinder if you haven’t already, and if you have, then may you have fun traversing the vast terrain that is her polyester suit. On a serious note, you readers have been incredibly kind to me and I wish you nothing but happiness. Stay safe and have a good one. Or as they say in Delhi, “Meter se chal b******!”
(Note: This is my HT column dated 28th Dec 2014.)